Benefit sharing scheme to open economic opportunities for rural communities, Indigenous People from Ph “genetic” wealth 

May 13, 2022 
 
A benefit sharing scheme will be implemented by the government to ensure Philippines’ own “genetic” wealth from endemic plants and animals will give economic opportunities to indigenous people (IP) and poverty-stricken rural communities. 
   The Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) framework from the country’s genetic wealth will be adopted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as its compliance to the Nagoya Protocol (NP). 
    The NP is a 2015 global agreement for the access of all to genetic resources and traditional knowledge and their equitable economic sharing.  

A genetic resource is a physical object of biological origin and the intellectual information associated with it such as traditional knowledge (Learn Nagoya). An example is a native people’s knowledge on the use of a plant as treatment for an illness. 

Nagoya Protocol. Credit- Cryoarks

  The poorest of society that come from ancestral domains (indigenous people) in the boondocks and rural communities are among targeted beneficiaries of the treaty.   
   The DENR project will be carried out over six years to be financed under the seventh cycle of ghe Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). 
   ”The project will increase economic opportunity and biodiversity conservation for local communities and IPs stemming from fair and equitable sharing  of biodiversity benefits,” according to a memorandum for DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Natividad Y. Bernardino. 
   The project “Implementing the National Framework for Access and Benefit Sharing of Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge”  costs a total of $26.015 million.  Of this, $4.384 million is taken up by GEF and $21.631 million is co-financed by Philippines, mainly government. 
   The first component of the project is harmonizing policies with the Nagoya Protocol on bioprospecting policies and scientific research.   
   These policies include commercialization of genetic resources on flora and fauna (plants and animal life).   
   Over the last decade,  scientific research activities have surged due to the rise of intellectuals and “Balik Scientist” Filipinos from abroad.   These intellectuals were given incentives by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)  to participate in the local “brain gain.” 
   Filipino researchers have been exploring the production of drugs, pharmaceutical products, natural ingredients for food, clothing and raw materials for home furnishings, commercial products, and industrial products such  as commercial vehicles’ accessories.   

They have been tapping Philippines’ natural resources of plants and animals from its rich biodiversity. 
   “Research undertaking with the private sector for possible uptake will be established,” according to the report submitted by DENR-Foreign Assisted and Special Projects Services Assistant Director Sabrina R. Cruz. 
   The Philippines was one of the first countries to implement access and benefit sharing under Article 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) through Executive Order 275 (1995). 
   It has since been amended by the Wildlife Act (Republic Act or RA 9147) and supported by the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (RA 8371 of 1997). 
    The DENR-BMB will lead the project.  Other implementing partners are Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, DENR Regions 3 and 4, Department of Agriculture (DA), PENRO (Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office)-Sorsogon, National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), DOST,  and local government units (LGUs). 
   The second component consists of information dissemination on the national policy on access to these genetic resources.   
   Policies on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR– patents and commercial licensing instruments) will be strengthened.   It will carry out capacity building for IPs and local communities in asserting their rights over their Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP). 

Nagoya Protocol. Credit-Learn Nagoya 


   The third component consists of facilitating negotiation for ABS agreements.   
   “It will support community protocols for security Prior Informed Consent (PIC) and Mutually Agreed Terms (MAT) to ensure fair and equitable sharing of both the monetary and non-monetary benefits of genetic resources.”  (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

DENR socio-economic resilience project in Catubig Watershed to sustain Samar Protected Landscape, support rice farmers  

 

May 9, 2022  

A Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) project to build socio-economic resilience in the Catubig Watershed will protect the Samar Protected Landscape and Seascape while supporting the livelihood of rice farmers, craftsmen, and fishers.  

The Small Grants Programme (SGP) Phase 7, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), was launched by DENR last April 8.   

It involves livelihood and biodiversity projects in four sites. These are in Aurora province (Sierra Madre), Calamianes Group of Islands in Palawan, and Siargao Protected Landscape and Seascape in Surigao del Norte.  

Phase 7 sustains the project that was started under GEF-Phase 5.  

The DENR-GEF SGP-7’s work in Catubig Watershed may have the biggest environmental and socio-economic growth impact among Samar natives.  

Calamianes Island, Palawan. Credit Coyxxx

While known to have a rich biodiversity profile with mixed dipterocarp forests, Samar Island is also known as the most cyclone-prone region in the country.   

The National Economic and Develoment Authority reported in 2015 that Northern Samar, where the Catubig Watershed is located, had a poverty incidence of 61.6 percent. This makes it one of the country’s poorest provinces.  

The SGP-7 costs $13.78  million of which $4.436 million comes from a GEF grant. The Philippine government co-finances $9.214 million. “  

“It is urgent that we strengthen the resilience of our community-based organizations. They are the frontliners in conservation and livelihood interventions. In this period of climate change and biodiversity degradation, a more integrated effort of interventions is essential,” DENR Secretary Jim O. Sampulna said.  

Siargao Protected Landscape and Seascape. Credit Travel Guide Pinoy

Greg Sarmiento, executive director of the Eastern Visayas Partnership for Rural Development, said the launch of SGP-7 is timely due to recent climate hazards experienced in the province.   

The Samar Island Natural Park is the second largest natural park in the Philippines covering 335,107 hectares. It has the country’s largest contiguous tract of old-growth forest.   

The Catubig Watershed is a major source of water supply in the household. The newly completed dam whose water comes from Catubig Watershed irrigates some 8,000 hectares of rice farm.   

“Catastrophic incidents like the onslaught of Typhoon Odette highlight the urgent need to continue our efforts on disaster risk reduction and resilience building,” UNDP Philippines Resident Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran said. 

 

Samar Island Natural Park. Credit- Vismin.ph

“These devastating events exacerbate the already limiting and unpredictable situation brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. The promising changes being offered by SGP-7 are expected to effect change towards strengthening governance systems even for disaster response, recover, and building resilient communities.”    SGP-7 has a livelihood component. The project encourages natives to engage in biodiversity friendly enterprises (BDFEs) in order to help veer them away from illegal logging and fishing activities. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

DENR project maps accreditation of People’s Organizations as “good forest stewards” in light of aim to export forest products, industrialize  

April 30, 2022  

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is mapping an accreditation system for People’s Organizations (PO) to become certified “good forest stewards” under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) especially as POs desire to export their forest products.  

   POs are now planned to be accredited by DENR even as Philippines hopes to pursue industrialization that will require excellent management of natural resources.  

   “PO accreditation is an important mechanism to transform POs into exemplary resource managers. POs are considered as ‘de facto’ managers, a partner rather than a contractor,” according to DENR Assistant Secretary Marcial C. Amaro.   

  Amaro said there is a need to revisit the draft Department administrative Order on PO accreditation in order to put this policy in place.  

“(We need) to conduct a national consultative meeting for possible institutionalization of PO accreditation with concerned CBFM (Community Based Forest Management) personnel by the fourth quarter of 2022,” he said.   

The PO accreditation will have a significant role in providing a sustainable livelihood for upland residents in order to discourage them from illegal logging and illegal wildlife hunting. The accreditation system was piloted as under DENR’s project Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (INREMP).  

   “The pervasive problems of poverty and landlessness have driven people to using public lands.  Inevitably, POs have become important players in the management of public land—timberland and multiple-use zones in protected areas,” said Dr. Manuel L. Bonita, DENR INREMP consultant.  

   The accreditation under FSC standards will enable POs to have easier access to export markets that look for international forest management certification.   

   Some 20 POs operating in nine provinces in four regions have already been accredited through the piloted accreditation program in 2019-2021 of INREMP. Having gained the trust of INREMP, the POs were allowed to enjoy substantial cash advances as  an intervention to natural resources management.  

   This allowed INREMP to accelerate lagging disbursement of the project’s fund.  

   ”In the future, forest products chain-of-custody must be added to the PO Accreditation System. This facilitates regulation of forest product harvesting  and inhibit corrupt practices,” said Bonita  at an INREMP Exit Conference last April 21.   

   DENR wants to sustain the accreditation program even after the closure of INREMP which is now on-going until June 2022.  

   POs are beneficiaries of DENR’s forest management contracts — Community Based Forest Management Program (CBFMP) and National Greening Program (NGP). The success of CBFMP and NGP depends on the transformation of POs into certified resource managers.   

   Being an accredited resource manager, one should abide by the Principles, Criteria, and Indicators (PCI) of good forest stewardship.   

   A PO applying for accreditation goes through an initial assessment and a series of annual assessments.    

   “An exemplary PO should not slide backward into an irresponsible resource manager,” said Bonita.     

   PO certification can be a testing ground for forest certification and “ultimately as an alternative or precursor to forest certification” (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Biofin partners with Blue Finance in training programs for managing biodiversity-rich Oriental Mindoro marine resources 

April 23, 2022 

The Biodiversity Finance Initiative (Biofin) has partnered with marine conservation organization Blue Finance to train people’s organizations (PO) in managing biodiversity-rich marine resources in  Oriental Mindoro. 

   The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), in a project with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has been introducing biodiversity finance solutions to local government units (LGUs). 

   In Oriental Mindoro, its partnership with Biofin and Blue Finance is enabling it to raise fund in order to sustain conservation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). 

   “A key obstacle to effectively managing MPAs is a lack of economic resources.  But at the Oriental Mindoro MPA in the Philippines, a consortium of dedicated partners is turning one of the world`s most productive ecosystems into a working business case,” according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 

   Oriental Mindoro has an MPA known to be home to endangered species including “whale sharks, hawksbill turtles, dugongs and many more exciting and critical species.” 

  In its second quarter report, Biofin indicated that it has developed a “private sector strategy.”  It is a program that will significantly aid in raising funds for biodiversity conservation programs. 

   Public Private Partnerships or PPP is a strategic approach to raising financing for biodiversity projects in protected areas. 

    “A study on the extractive industry with reference to potential financing mechanisms and the feasibility of third party monitors will be undertaken. Meetings with IKEA, Shore It Up, and BDO were held to explore potential CSR activities with NGOs (non government organizations),”  according to a Biofin report. 

   “A study on the extractive industry with reference to potential financing mechanisms and the feasibility of third party monitors will be undertaken.” 

   These are Biofin’s other approaches to raising financing: 

1.     Biofin will assist BMB-CAWED (Biodiversity Management Bureau-Caves, Wetlands and Other Ecosystems Division) as it comes up with policy recommendations on the integration of biodiversity in the infrastructure sector 

2.     Development of Biodiversity Friendly Enterprises (BDFEs) particularly in protected areas in Mindanao where a survey has been completed and now under study 

   The Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (PBSAP), which started in 2015 and will last until year 2028, will cost P24 billion yearly.  A budget deficit of P19 billion yearly exists. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Bayer’s Pharma Business in Asia Pacific Drives Growth in 2021 with More Innovative Medicines to be Launched

April 21, 2022

–Pharmaceuticals division’s sales in the Asia/Pacific region grew 4.8%* to more than €5.8 billion in 2021
–This marked the tenth consecutive year of growth for Bayer’s Pharmaceuticals Division in the region
–Four upcoming major launches of innovative treatments Finerenone, Vericiguat, Larotrectinib and Darolutamide underscore Bayer’s commitment to reduce burden of cardiovascular diseases and cancer in the APAC region

Singapore, April 21, 2022 — Bayer announced today that 2021 was another record year for its Pharmaceuticals Division in the Asia/Pacific region, with robust growth of 4.8%* delivering sales of more than €5.8 billion. Business in the region contributed to almost one-third of Bayer’s pharmaceuticals global sales.2

Despite lingering COVID-19 challenges, sales of Bayer’s Pharmaceuticals Division sales outside of China and Japan grew 1-2% in developed markets such as Australia/New Zealand, Korea, and Taiwan. Key growth drivers also came from South Asia with India delivering a strong 11%3 growth and Pakistan at 2%3, and the ASEAN cluster achieving 9%3 average growth across Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Newly appointed Head of Commercial Operations for Bayer’s Pharmaceuticals Division in Asia/Pacific, Ying Chen, said: “2021 has been a successful year for Bayer’s Pharmaceuticals Division as we increased our efforts to focus on what matters most – delivering both innovative and essential medicines to patients in Asia/Pacific, despite the challenges from the pandemic. Our consistent strong growth in the region is a testament to our innovation-driven portfolio that delivers value to patients in areas of high unmet medical needs.”

Outside of China and Japan, sales of Xarelto® in Asia/Pacific grew significantly by 12%3 in 2021 over the previous year. Similarly, there was a 10%3 increase in Eylea® sales and it represents one of the most successful product launches in Asia/Pacific to date.

Xarelto remains the most broadly studied novel oral anticoagulant with 100 million patients treated in 130 countries since 2008. More than 47 million vials/pre-filled syringes of Eylea have been sold globally, generating 6.8 million patient-years of experience in 100 countries.4

Bayer plans to grow its global pharmaceuticals sales by 3-4% in 20222 on a currency and portfolio adjusted basis. The market outlook for the Asia/Pacific region remains positive, as IQVIA projects an average growth rate of 4-5% in the pharmaceutical markets across the region from 2021 to 2025.

2022 will be a breakthrough year for Bayer’s Pharmaceuticals Division in Asia/Pacific with four upcoming launches of innovative products in the fields of cardiovascular disease and oncology.

Chronic and Cardiovascular Diseases Leading Causes of Death
Every year across the globe, 15 million people die before age 70 from chronic diseases which include cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, and obesity. Couple that with the fact that by 2050, one in four people in Asia/Pacific will be over 60 years old. 

Along with ageing, the greatest cumulative impact on health comes from the striking rise in metabolic risks – namely high Body Mass Index (BMI), high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol – accounting for nearly 20% of total health loss worldwide in 2019. Diabetes prevalence is increasing in Asia/Pacific, with over 70 million people living with diabetes in India alone. One in 10 adults worldwide is living with diabetes and out of those, almost half are undiagnosed.

Bayer’s Finerenone, a non-steroidal, selective mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) antagonist has demonstrated positive kidney and cardiovascular (CV) outcomes in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D). Up to 40% of people living with diabetes have CKD, which increases the risk of renal failure/dialysis and CV outcomes.

Heart failure is the number one cause of death affecting more than 60 million people worldwide; 50% do not survive 5 years, and 1 in 5 patients will die in 2 years. One person in Australia is hospitalised for heart failure every 8 minutes. Patients in Asia/Pacific suffer from worse outcomes with late presentation of symptoms and huge gaps in treatment for the past decade to address this unmet risk. The key is to optimize treatment of worsening heart failure early and prevent the next hospitalization. To this effect, the European Society of Cardiology HF Guidelines Task Force published new guidelines in 2021 mentioning worsening heart failure for the first time and emphasized the urgency of establishing foundational therapies faster.

Many traditional therapies work by inhibiting signaling pathways. Bayer’s Vericiguat is a therapy that works by stimulating soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC), which leads to improved myocardial and vascular function

More People Diagnosed with Cancer Each Year
Despite seeing incredible progress over the past years, the overall burden of cancer is not decreasing, but increasing, with almost 20 million patients diagnosed with cancer worldwide in 2020. The global cancer burden is expected to be 28.4 million cases in 2040, a 47% rise from 2020.

Some cancers are caused by specific changes in genes and when a neurotrophic tyrosine receptor kinase (NTRK) gene joins with an unrelated gene, it is known as tropomyosin receptor kinase (TRK) fusion cancer. The cancer is not related to a certain type of tissue or the age of the patient; it can occur anywhere in the body, in both children and in adults.

Bayer’s oral precision therapy Larotrectinib has shown to be an effective treatment in children and adults with TRK fusion cancer. Only specific genomic tests can detect NTRK gene fusions, the underlying cause of TRK fusion cancer. By testing patients and finding out what is driving their cancer, doctors could target the root of the disease. With emerging research on TRK fusion cancer, we are one step closer to precision medicine, where tumor genetics, rather than where the tumor is in the body, help doctors select specific treatment approaches that could more likely benefit their patients.

Prostate Cancer Second Most Common Cancer in Men
Prostate cancer is the second most diagnosed malignancy in men worldwide. In 2020, an estimated 1.4 million men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and about 375,000 died from the disease worldwide. Treatment options range from surgery to radiation treatment to therapy using hormone-receptor antagonists, i.e., substances that stop the formation of testosterone or prevent its effect at the target location; however in nearly all cases, the cancer eventually becomes resistant to conventional hormone therapy. Bayer’s Darolutamide is an oral androgen receptor inhibitor (ARi) that binds to the receptor with high affinity and exhibits strong antagonistic activity, thereby inhibiting the receptor function and the growth of prostate cancer cells.

Clinical Trials Yielding Consistent Results

Globally, clinical trial activity across the pharmaceutical industry saw sustained growth through the pandemic with 5,500 new planned clinical trial starts in 2021, a 14% increase over 2020. Also in 2021, new drug approvals and launches accelerated, with 84 novel active substances launched, double the number five years ago. according to IQVIA. The 15 largest pharmaceutical companies invested a record US$133 billion of R&D expenditure in 2021, representing an increase of 45% since 2016 and a level of investment close to 20% of their recorded sales.

Bayer is continuing to build a strong pharmaceuticals development pipeline, advancing around 50 projects in Phase I to III of clinical development.2 Among these projects, many have the potential to treat various types of cancers, diabetic kidney disease, and chronic heart failure which represent areas of high medical needs for the region’s ageing population. Asia/Pacific is strongly represented in Bayer’s clinical development activities with 46 ongoing clinical trials conducted in the region throughout 2020 and 2021, and over half of these in the area of oncology.

“We have approximately a quarter of patients from Asia/Pacific represented and enrolled in three key global development trial programs for Bayer Pharmaceuticals’ new breakthrough innovations: for worsening heart failure, chronic kidney disease associated with type 2 diabetes, NTRK fusion cancer and for various stages of prostate cancer. With today’s digital and decentralized model, participation in trials is more accessible and convenient remotely, allowing us to generate meaningful data to monitor and improve patients’ outcomes,” said Dr Catherine Donovan, Head of Medical Affairs, for Bayer’s Pharmaceuticals Division in Asia/Pacific.

Collaborate to Cure
Bayer is fostering collaborations with external partners for accelerating innovation in the development of new medicines. With the support of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) since 2007, Bayer continues to expand its collaboration activities in the Asia/Pacific region and has already invested S$27 million in projects with Singapore institutions to advance clinical and translation research in cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

At its recent Breakthrough Innovation Forum, Bayer announced that it will accelerate investments by its impact investment arm Leaps by Bayer with more than €1.3 billion in funding over the next three years.

“As recovery from the pandemic begins to take shape, the company is working with healthcare professionals across the Asia/Pacific region to transform patient health through science for a better life. Innovation is our company’s lifeblood and so are partnerships and integrating patient care. Putting more resources on the frontlines to educate, detect and treat conditions early before they become more serious can lead to improved health outcomes and reduced healthcare spending,” said Dr Catherine Donovan.

Commitment to Sustainable Health
For more than 50 years, Bayer has been supporting education programs and rights-based family planning in more than 130 countries, particularly by providing access to modern forms of contraception, in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – reaching 7 million women in Asia Pacific in 2021.

With its expertise in women’s healthcare, the company has committed to provide 100 million women in low- and middle-income countries with access to family planning by 2030. Bayer consistently runs local support programs in the Asia/Pacific region to educate and support women living with hormonal disorders, like endometriosis – a painful disorder affecting 10% of women of reproductive age worldwide – many of whom do not seek early diagnosis and treatment due to various misconceptions. Many women are also affected by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – a condition that usually develops in a woman’s late teens in which the ovaries produce high amounts of androgens (male sex hormones) that are usually present in women only in small amounts.

In the Philippines, Bayer held a #DontLiveWithPain online roundtable last March 21, 2022 to highlight the challenges of diagnosing and living with endometriosis, build a community of support for OB-GYNEs and patients; and to encourage women to seek out more information on this debilitating condition. The call for awareness on endometriosis continues on April 27, 2022, 6:00 PM with “Breaking the Cycle: What Pinays Need to Know about Endometriosis”, an online talk to be streamed via Facebook Live on Bayer’s Ask Mara and Mercury Drug Facebook pages.

The Bayer Ask Mara chatbot on Facebook was also upgraded last year with additional features such as a store locator to help find nearby drugstores and an expanded knowledge base covering topics like endometriosis and androgen excess – on top of providing advice on contraception and reproductive health topics at any time.

“Forging ahead with our leadership in women’s healthcare, Bayer Pharmaceuticals is supporting women across Asia/Pacific not only with their family planning needs but also through various stages of their reproductive lifecycles. We are committed to patient programs to shift the treatment paradigm from traditional illness-based and hospital-bound to more sustainable patient-centered preventive care,” said Dr Ying Chen.

DENR USAID ‘SIBOL’ project boosts environment protection, economic activity in farflung rural areas  

April 20, 2022  

 
A Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) project that estimates the economic value of the country’s natural resources is seen to boost environmental protection and will support economic activity in farflung rural areas.  
   A DENR project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) called Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans, and Landscapes (SIBOL) has elevated Philippines’ appreciation for natural resources and biodiversity protection. Project cost is P1.1 billion. 
   SIBOL has trained  Filipino natural resource managers on how to properly account for environment-provided benefits.  
   A total of 275 government staff and researchers from Philippine public universities has completed a three-month training that will support the government’s promotion of economic growth through the conservation of the country’s ecosystems.  
   The training serves as a foundation for incorporating environmental valuation into the design of economic plans at the local level.  
   The Philippines’ capability to quantify the economic value of its natural resources will be applied in natural capital accounting.  


   “When we have competent natural resource managers who are able to account for and monitor the economic value of ecosystem services, the country is in a better position to understand the drivers behind natural resource depletion. It’s a necessary intervention that will preserve the country’s biodiversity, oceans, and landscapes,” said USAID Philippines Environment Office Director John Edgar.  
   Natural resource managers and researchers from the DENR, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, National Economic and Development Authority, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, and six public universities learned various methods for measuring the value of benefits derived from the environment such as food, water and fuel, soil conservation, and coastal protection.  
   “This (capability will help in) updating the country’s asset accounts, or the value of resources found in Philippine forests, coral reefs, and fisheries,” said the DENR. 

Cleopatra’s Needle Forest Reserve. Credit-Justgola

   According to the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, the Philippines is one of 17 megadiverse countries in the world, which account for 70% of the entire planet’s species of flora and fauna.    
   SIBOL is a five-year natural resources management and biodiversity conservation project.   It is among the biggest and most important initiatives in the country that could profoundly impact the environment in generations to come, according to USAID.  
    Launched in 2020, SIBOL aims to work with the government to achieve its goals of improving natural resource governance, stimulating public and private sector investments, and reducing environmental crime.   

Siargao Islands Portected Landscape and Seascape. Credit-Issuu

Such goals will lead to greater ecosystem stability and inclusive green growth. SIBOL has set up four sites in the following key protected areas in the Philippines:  

1. Masinloc-Oyon Bay Protected Landscape and Seascape, a coastal area that supports thousands of fishers and coastal communities threatened by mining, overfishing, and population growth  
2. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park and Cleopatra’s Needle Forest Reserve, which are forest areas of the ecologically important Palawan province and significant habitats for biodiversity  
3. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape, a forest area that is home to abundant biodiversity and more than 12,000 indigenous people threatened by logging and mining pressures  
4. Siargao Island Protected Landscape and Seascape, a marine protected area surrounded by the country’s largest contiguous mangrove area and is threatened by over-fishing and the exploitation of other natural resources. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape and Seascape

DENR partners with Japan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, “decarbonize” society toward “Asia zero emissions community”

April 16, 2022  

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has strengthened its partnership with the Ministry of the Environment of Japan (MOEJ) for the reduction of greenhouse gas emission toward a “decarbonized” society and “Asia zero emissions community.”  

During the Philippines-Japan Bilateral Environmental Policy Dialogue last March, DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna said the Bilateral Environmental Policy Dialogue served as an avenue for DENR and MOEJ to partner in protection against the impact of climate change.   

“The Philippines, being an archipelago, is one of the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change. Our country has faced several typhoons for as long as we can remember. Partnering with Japan in terms of technology and know-how on measures to mitigate climate change is indeed vital at this time,” Sampulna said.   

DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and International Affairs Jonas R. Leones said the Philippines remains committed to the”projected greenhouse gas emission reduction and avoidance of 75 percent.”    

MOEJ Vice Minister Tokutaro Nakai said the agency was deepening its cooperation with the DENR through strategies such as Initiative on Fluorocarbons Life Cycle Management, Joint Crediting Mechanism.    

Other initiatives are on transparency reporting on greenhouse gas emissions, city-to-city collaboration, and knowledge and tools sharing on climate adaptation projects and waste management technology support.   

“In the area of climate change, we were able to confirm that there are some areas of cooperation such as the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) as well as the development of the long-term strategies. We will make efforts to work for that and hope to cooperate with you in the future attempts, too,” Nakai said.   

Nakai said that the MOEJ would accelerate its effort to decarbonize Asia for the establishment of the so-called “Asia zero-emissions community.”   

The Bilateral Environment Dialogue was part of the first-ever Philippines-Japan Environmental Week organized by DENR and MOEJ.  

The rest of the activities included technical level and plenary sessions on various areas of waste management, waste-to-energy projects, and climate change.   

Asian utilities are key to net zero carbon. Credit-Euromoney

Through a joint statement, the DENR and the MOEJ agreed to take actions to tackle climate change. The two countries will work on advancing the life cycle management of fluorocarbon in the Philippines and Japan to contribute to the Philippines’ hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) emissions reduction.   

“On fluorocarbon, both sides confirm the ongoing and future cooperation between the DENR and the MOEJ in potential assessment of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) collection and destruction. Other cooperation projects are on capacity development of policymakers and technicians and utilization of the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM) under the Initiative on Fluorocarbons Life Cycle Management (IFL),” the joint statement read.   

As part of the Partnership to Strengthen Transparency for co-Innovation (PaSTI) program, the DENR and MOEJ will continue to work on capacity-building in the Industrial Processes and Product Use (IPPU) and waste sectors.  

Getting to net zero built in the environment. Credit-Arcadis

These projects will strengthen Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reporting and incentives for action.  

The partnership also calls for engagement of the private and local government stakeholders as a key component.   

Renewable energy sources in Southeast Asia. Credit-ResearchGate

“On adaptations, both sides confirm the importance of sharing the knowledge and tools for implementing adaptation projects in vulnerable communities through the Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Information Platform (AP-PLAT) and the National Integrated Climate Change Database Information and Exchange System (NICCDIES).”

Bayer comes out superior with a 12.36 metric tons (MT) per hectare yield in DA-administered corn derby in Malaybalay, Bukidnon 

Bayer comes out superior with a 12.36 metric tons (MT) per hectare yield in DA-administered corn derby in Malaybalay, Bukidnon 

Bayer Crop Science (BCS) Philippines is restoring its Mindanao operations with aggressive market enthusiasm armed with new multiple pest-resistant hybrid corn varieties that toppled other seeds in a Department of Agriculture-administered corn derby.  

Coming out superior from the DA Region 10 Field Office (RFO) corn competition is Bayer’s DEKALB 8131S with a top yield of 12,36 MT per hectare. It bested other entries from seven seed companies. 

Incidentally, two other DEKALB hybrid corn varieties, ranked Top 2 and Top 3 in the DA RFO 10 corn derby. DEKALB 8899S gave a yield of 10.9 MT per hectare and DEKALB 8719S at 10.06 MT per hectare.  

DA RFO 10 reported that the hybrid corn varieties were showcased in two research centers in Region 10. The first is at the Northern Mindanao Agricultural Crops and Livestock Research Complex (NMACLRC) in Dalwangan, Malaybalay City with an altitude of 800 meters above sea level. The other competition site is at Research Center for Upland Development (RCUD) in Barongcot, Dangcagan, Bukidnon (600 meters above sea level) on March 3-4, 2022.  

“Our aim is to assess the productivity and profitability of these different hybrid corn varieties and component technologies appropriate for specific locations,” said RFO 10 Executive Director Carlene C. Collado.  

Erwin Vibal, Head of Grower Marketing at Bayer CropScience Philippines, said DEKALB’s strong performance in the competition signals revival of operation in MIndanao. The company experienced a lull in its Mindanao operation in three to four years. It just began restoring operation in 2020 with its new DEKALB superior corn varieties.   

Grain-filled Dekalb 8131S corn cob

“We pulled back in Mindanao from 2016 to 2017 since we had to rethink our strategies. Now we’re confident to be back to Mindanao because of the excellent performance of our product offerings that beat competition by miles away,” said Vibal.   

Mindanao corn farmers found the DEKALB corn varieties highly profitable owing to its VT Double Pro that has resistance to four virulent pests. VT Double Pro has dual mode of action that protects corn plants from Asiatic corn borer, Fall Army Worm (FAW), earworm, and cutworm.   

It is the only hybrid corn variety certified by the Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority (FPA) for its resistance against FAW.   

FAW has been heavily infesting corn farms nationwide, bringing losses of 80 to 100% to farmers.  

“The disease pressure in Mindanao is very high. But farmers have a choice. Do they want to use seeds and use pesticide sprays, or do they want DEKALB hybrid corn seeds that have built-in resistance against pests?” said Vibal.  

  Evangeline S. Mayantao, a farmer of Malaybalay City said (originally in Filipino), “This derby helps us farmers a lot in giving us information on what corn seeds give a high yield and on technologies that will help us grow our farms.”    

Regional Technical Director for Operations Carlota S. Madriaga recognized the sustained effort of the seed companies in developing high yielding corn varieties appropriate in different agro-climatic conditions.    

Among the provinces in the region, Bukidnon has the largest corn production in the region with more than 100 hectares.  

The third leg of corn derby and field day was held on March 10 at the Research Center for Hillyland Development (RCHD) in Lanise, Claveria, Misamis Oriental.  

The activity was supported by the PLGU Bukidnon through its Provincial Agriculture Office, respective Municipal Agriculture Offices, DA-10’s Research Division and Provincial Operations Center for Bukidnon and farmer associations.  

The results of the derby were presented to the attending corn farmers together with their assigned agricultural technicians, coming from the towns of Magsaysay, Lagonglong, Balingasag, Claveria, Jasaan, Villanueva, Tagoloan and Opol, and the city of El Salvador, MisOr; and the municipality of Malitbog, Bukidnon.   

Collado said in a statement that results from the corn competition will also form part of the agency’s procurement, factoring in the local government units and farmers’ requests.   

Collado also urged the corn farmers to form into clusters, being one of DA’s key strategies to boost the country’s agriculture sector. This will optimize any assistance from the government that would enable farmers to significantly cut their cost of operations, achieve bountiful yields, and reap an increase of incomes.   

“If you have volume, we encourage you to form a cluster, as we can make arrangements with different feed millers, to ensure you enjoy stable or even higher prices for your corn harvest,” he said. Melody Mendoza Aguiba

Joint Memorandum Circular of DENR, DA, DILG to strengthen marine protected areas, enrich coral reefs and marine habitats 

April 12, 2022 

A Joint Memorandum Circular between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and two other state agencies is expected to strengthen the establishment of marine protected area networks (MPAN), restore damaged coastal ecosystems, and enrich coral reefs and marine habitats. 

   This policy mandates collaboration between DENR, the Department of Agriculture (DA), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in improving the coastal and marine environment through cooperation. 

   “The eventual approval of the joint (DA-DENR-DILG) policy guidelines on the establishment and management of MPANs will be valuable in biodiversity conservation efforts,” according to Dr. Vincent V. Hilomen, SMARTSeas PH national project manager. 

    The JMC ensures that biodiversity conservation is given priority equally along with economic development. 

DENR-SMARTSeas Marine Protected Areas-Networks

   “There will be a value for a government policy that places conservation as equally important to development and progress.  Many of the degraded coastal and marine habitats resulted from the relentless push for development and progress with little afterthought of the higher costs to the environment,” said Hilomen. 

   A joint effort of DENR, DA, and DILG will help government hurdle the difficulties of putting up Marine Protected Areas (MPA) and MPA Network (MPAN) amid coastal residents’ usual opposition against these. 

MPAN is a collection of individual MPAs or reserves operating cooperatively and synergistically under the SMARTSeas. 

   “One of the greatest challenges that we are experiencing in establishing MPANs is still the acceptance of the community. There are several instances where the communities resist to set aside a portion of their waters for protection purposes because they think that access to their fishing areas will be limited,” said Hilomen. 

   It is imperative that government capacitates its MPA/MPAN workforce to empower them in harnessing cooperation from communities in establishing the MPA/MPANs. 

   “A thorough discussion of the benefits from protection and consultation with the community from the onset is a must.   The involvement of the community in protection is critical.” 

   The DENR’s SMARTSeas PH project or Strengthening Marine Protected Areas to Conserve Marine Key Biodiversity Areas in the Philippines is funded under a $28.53 million co-financing scheme between government and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). It also received a GEF grant of $8 million. 

   The SMARTSeas PH has so far capacitated at least  70 key DENR regional and field staff through online distance learning.  

This is the first-ever of its kind capacity building activity in the DENR.  The increased competencies included identification and approaches to resolving threats to the marine environment. 

   The establishment of three MPANs led to the development of nearly 90 management bodies of MPAs and MPANs that have demonstrated increased competencies for management effectiveness. 

   SMARTSeas has also developed a better monitoring and evaluation system for MPAs and MPANs which provided an important guide to monitor management progress across the country.    Protection of coastal ecosystems under the MPA includes patrolling, surveillance of habitats, conduct of direct activities and repair of signages, other facilities, gears and equipment. Melody Mendoza Aguiba

About SMARTSeas (Reference: Paglayag) 

The DENR-SMARTSeas PH Project was a six-year initiative of the DENR-BMB. With support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the project aimed to accelerate the establishment of MPA and MPANs to include more marine key biodiversity areas (KBAs) in order to reduce and arrest the rapid degradation of marine and coastal habitats.  

The project established biodiversity friendly enterprises (BDFEs) for people’s organizations (POs) who manage their MPAs and established a co-management model as a revenue mechanisms from impact investments to sustain and cover management costs; and enabled a policy where science-based conservation strategies of marine biodiversity are ensured.  

The project was piloted in five sites in the country – Verde Island Passage (VIP), Southern Palawan, Tanon Strait Protected Landscape (TSPS), Lanuza Bay, and Davao Gulf.  

The uniqueness of each site as a marine KBA resulted to different storylines, but aiming at achieving the same goal.  

During the implementation, the project facilitated the establishment of three MPANs, adding 1.8 million hectares of the sea under a form of protection and enclosing an additional 17 marine KBAs.  

The project established 33 BDFEs in accordance with the DENR guidelines — 21 of which were provided with Low Value Grant support to POs, capacitated and deputized 220 Bantay Dagat through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).  

It also leveraged at least P 2.9 billion worth of support from the private sector and local government units, and enabled institutionalization of a more inclusive and integrated MPA and MPAN framework through local and national policies.  

Dairy farmers opposed DepEd’s sourcing of milk for its feeding program from multinational corporations, depriving Filipino farmers 

April 6, 2022 

Dairy farmers have vehemently opposed a proposed Department of Education (DepEd) policy to source from multinational corporations – instead of from Filipino farmers– the milk for its School Based Feeding Program (SBFP).  

The Dairy Confederation of the Philippines, in a letter to DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones, said Filipino milk farmers stand to lose P250 million from the policy. 

Besides, RA 11037 “states unequivocally that as far as practicable,” milk for the SBFP shall be sourced from local farmers and processors. 

“This is in violation of the purpose and spirit of RA 11037,” said DCP Director Danilo V. Fausto in the letter. RA 11037 institutionalizes the National Feeding Program for Undernourished Children in Public Day Care Center, Kindergarten, and Elementary Schools to Combat Hunger and Undernutrition. 

The latest policy is for implementation from April to June 2022. 

“We strongly deplore and object to this sudden and unilateral program implementation schedule for the 2022 GAA (General Appropriations Act) . The schedule will unfairly prevent the local farmers, cooperatives and local milk processing plants from supplying the milk requirements of the SBFP under the 2022 GAA,” Fausto said. 

Filipino-produced fresh milk-Gatas ng Kalabaw by DVF Dairy

The local dairy farmers, processors and cooperatives started serving the SBFP during GAA 2019 in the last quarter of 2020 and continued on to GAA 2020 and then to GAA 2021 which is currently ongoing.  

“They cannot possibly be expected to supply the GAA 2022 milk in the sudden and unilateral imposition of an April 2022 to June 2022 period within which to supply milk because the 2021 GAA is still ongoing. And the milk is still being produced and delivered,” Fausto said.  

The milk feeding for 2021 is still ongoing because of the pandemic and will finish by June 2022. DepEd wants to implement 2022 starting April to June this year, overlapping the ongoing milk feeding using the budget for 2021. 

This will in effect allow foreign multinationals to come in since “we will have to finish first the 2021 up to June, thus, local dairy farmers cannot supply the April to June request of DepEd.” 

DepEd is now asking NDA (National Dairy Authority) and PCC (Philippine Carabao Center) to sign a certification that local dairy farmers cannot supply the milk to allow the entry of foreign multinational dairy companies, dislodging the local dairy farmers for the GAA budget 2022. 

“The very spirit why RA11037 was created…to give livelihood and income opportunities for our local farmers. Local dairy farmers can supply the milk required under the program.”. 


DepEd wants to implement the milk feeding program only for 16 days, while the recommendation of the National Food and Nutrition Council is 90-120 days to have real and meaningful impact on the health of school children.  

Furthermore, majority of the local dairy farmers and cooperatives have reinvested their earnings to expand their capacities. 

“And now they will be shut out and excluded under the program, consequently resulting in losing millions of pesos for these dairy cooperatives, turning their expansion to white elephants,” said Fausto. 

“If they allow multinationals to enter, the rest of 2022 beginning July to December, the local dairy farmers & cooperatives will be shut out and excluded. The multinationals will advantage of the milk feeding program funded by tax payers’ money.” 

DepEd does have a commitment on fund utilization with the Department of Budget and Management, DCP admitted. But this unilateral decision to implement starting April 2022 effectively excludes local dairy farmers and milk processing plants.

The policy will double multinationals’ share to the milk feeding program in 2022 to 41.89% equivalent to 442.692 million from 19.07%  in 2021. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)